In September of 2011, it was announced that AVATAR themed lands would be added to Disney theme parks all over the world, with the first one planned to open at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida (with construction planned to start sometime around the year 2013). It is time to take a look at the McDonald's Happy Meal toys based on AVATAR's world of Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
In keeping with the networking theme of James Cameron's AVATAR film, the interlocking Rube Goldberg toys in this series can all be connected in different combinations and cause a chain reaction.
The anchor piece of this set is AVATAR's hero, Jake Sully.
The Jake figure slides down a vine and hits a tree, which triggers an action to whatever toy it is connected with.
When the Flamingo-like Tetrapteron is touched, it releases the Great Leonopteryx, the largest character in this set.
The Great Leonopteryx swivels around on its rocky base to set the next toy in motion.
When the Helicordian plant is touched, it sends Jake's Mountain Banshee spiraling down a tall tree.
At the base of the tree, the Mountain Banshee hits some foliage, which triggers the next toy.
It's time to try to lasso a Direhorse.
When the lasso hits the Direhorse, this six-legged beast is sent galloping to hit whatever toy it is connected with.
When a large tree branch is activated, it sends the acrobatic, monkey-like Prolemuris tumbling through the trees.
The Prolemuris figure lands on the jungle floor and hits the next toy.
The leaves of a tree hold back a foul-tempered Hammerhead Titanothere.
When the Hammerhead Titanothere charges, it hits the Hexapede, which triggers the next toy.
When a carnivorous Viperwolf on a tree branch is touched, the ferocious, panther-like Thanator springs out of the tree.
The pouncing Thanator sends another Viperwolf on the attack, which sets off the next toy.
When a Pandorian plant is hit, Neytiri and her Mountain Banshee are sent soaring through the jungle.
Neytiri's take-off activates another swiveling shrub, which would trigger the action in the connected toy.
The bioluminescent characters and set pieces of Pandora take on a spectacular look in the dark.
The Pandora jungle at night in Disney's Animal Kingdom puts a whole new twist on a visit to that theme park.
The Great Leonopteryx is sort of like a cross between a pterodactyl and a dragon.
I imagine many parades in Pandora incorporate a representation of this beast.
Flying on a Mountain Banshee is a Must-Do.
The most popular souvenir in Pandora is the light-up Mountain Banshee toy glider.
The most domesticated animal in Pandora is the Direhorse.
The Direhorse Carousel is a big hit at traveling festivals on Pandora.
I was terrified of monkeys when I was a little kid, but I also thought they were really interesting. I'm not sure what my reaction would have been to a six-limbed monkey.
Kids on Pandora, though, love playing on the Prolemuris Bars at the jungle gym.
The threat displays of the rhino-like Titanothere and the deer-like Hexapede are a bit more dazzling in the dark.
You'll be in awe when the Titanothere tries to destroy you.
My favorite AVATAR character is the Thanator.
I'm ready to see an Exploring the World of Pandora nature series to air on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, documenting the life of a Thanator during the day and night.
Neytiri enjoys flying her Mountain Banshee through Pandora, the Las Vegas of Jungles.
With their cat-like ears, noses, and tails, even the "humans" of Pandora have an animal look.
Jake Sully looks a bit like a blue Brendan Fraser, star of Disney's George of the Jungle film, which was a spoof of Tarzan.
The Disney's Animal Kingdom Pandora toys are actually based on a Disney Tarzan McDonald's Happy Meal series from 2000 that I re-imagined as an AVATAR set. Working on this, I was reminded of watching "The Making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit" TV special, which showed live action film footage being masked by drawings.
The easiest characters to transform were Jake Sully (Tarzan), Neytiri and her Mountain Banshee (Young Tarzan on a Stork), the Prolemuris (Terk the Gorilla) and the Thanator (Sabor the Leopard). The others were much trickier. The Direhorse (Kala the Gorilla with baby Tarzan on a boat), the Great Leonopteryx (Tantor the Elephant), Jake's Mountain Banshee (Kerchak the Gorilla) and the Hammerhead Titanothere (Jane) proved to be challenging.
For more fun, check out the original Disney's Animal Kingdom McDonald's Happy Meal.
UPDATE 10/13/2013: AVATAR at Disney's Animal Kingdom is expected to open in 2017.